1694 Tasting Notes

drank Pear Drops by Bluebird Tea Co.
1694 tasting notes

I’m usually pretty impressed with Bluebird teas but sadly this one wasn’t a hit with me. I love pear drops, but all I got from my cup of this one was a rather woody, drying rooibos. There’s the tiniest bit of floral pear-like flavour lurking in the background, but it’s barely there and I often wondered whether I wasn’t just imagining it.

I really wish the flavour here could have been stronger. It’s such a delicious idea, but sadly not even close to realisation. A rare Bluebird flop.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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My second Bluebird tea of the day, and probably the one I was most doubtful about. I’ve tried Tulsi a few times and it’s not really been my thing. Still, worth a try. For a tea that’s called “Mango Tulsi” there’s a suspicious lack of mango actually in evidence. The ingredients list specifies pineapple and papaya, both of which I can see cubes of in the dry leaf. There’s also fluffy green tulsi, and some (really pretty) sunflower petals. Bluebird teas are always so visually appealing! The scent of the dry leaf is primarily pineapple, just like a freshly opened bag of those sweetened, dried pineapple pieces. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a telling red-pink. Hello, hibiscus. The scent is amazing, though – orange ice pops! It’s so deliciously summery.

To taste, this isn’t (sadly!) quite as good as it smells. I get papaya, rather than mango, with a touch of sweetness that could be the pineapple, or could be the sugar I see has been added to the mix. There’s a fairly strong herbal flavour that I guess is the tulsi, and it’s not a great pairing with the tropical fruit vibe. The hibiscus is also too strong for my tastes, contributing a sour tartness that’s just not really very nice. I feel let down by this one. It sounds promising, and it certainly smells good. It just somehow fails to deliver in the flavour. Not a Bluebird day for me, sadly.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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drank Buddha Bamboo by Tea Desire
1694 tasting notes

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve tried this one once before, if I recall correctly, again as part of a swap. I remember enjoying it, although I think I only had enough for one cup so my recollection isn’t all that clear. I’m pleased to have the chance to try it again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a very pale yellow, and smells mildly fruity. It actually puts me in mind of Froot Loops, to tell the truth.

To taste, this is a very mild, juicy-tasting strawberry-pineapple delight. The strawberry adds a sweet tartness, while the pineapple contributes most of the “juiciness”, and a lovely tropical edge. This is my last day at work before I have a week’s leave, so it’s the perfect mid-afternoon cup to think happy thoughts with.

The bamboo base is the most intriguing thing about this one, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve not come across that many bamboo teas before, but it reminds me mostly of a white tea. It’s light, refreshing and gentle in the same way, with only a mild flavour of its own that really lets any additions shine.

I’m enjoying this one, and I’m glad to have had another chance to try it.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Roswell Strange. I like Elderflower a lot, but it seems to be fairly rare in tea (maybe that’s just the UK?) It’s always nice to have the opportunity to try one, anyway. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a happy, sunshiny yellow – very cheering!

To taste, elderflower is definitely the most prominent flavour. It’s sweet and delicately floral, with a kind of honeyed smoothness that’s exceptionally palatable. It reminds me a lot of elderflower cordial. The white tea base is perfect here, contributing mild hay-like notes but letting the elderflower shine. I can see why this one was part of the spring collection – it’s perfect on a warm afternoon!

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Roswell Strange. Quite frankly, I’m scared by the amount of chili there is in this one. It’s not chili flakes, or chili powder, it’s actual rings of chili. I like spicy things, but I just have a feeling that this one might be more than I can really handle. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a very conservative 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a murky brown, fairly typical of mate.

I took the tiniest first sip of this one, because I was expecting to be assaulted by chili. I’m actually pleasantly surprised, though, because it tastes a lot nice than I thought it was going to. There is heat, but at the moment it’s not too strong or overpowering. You can tell it’s chili, but it reminds me more of chipotle than anything. It has a mildly smoky, rich flavour, which combines well with the earthiness of the mate. A bigger sip yields a bit of a burn at the back of the throat, but (again) nothing overwhelming. I think the short brew time helped to make this one palatable!

The last very spicy tea I tried was 52 Teas Mayan Chocolate Chai, and even with a lot of milk that was too much for me. This one is much better balanced, despite the proliferation of chili. Nothing to be scared of after all!

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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At the moment I’m drinking a sample from my swap with Roswell Strange, which she described as a “mystery pu’erh”. It’s a tuo cha, with primarily green-black compressed leaves, and a couple of orangey patches that might be orange peel? I’m really not sure about that, though. It got a rinse in boiling water, and then an initial steep of one minute. There’s not much of a scent, other than a grassiness reminiscent of green tea, and the liquor remains fairly pale –a kind of golden-yellow. Intriguing.

To taste, this one is a little dank, and just a touch vegetal. It honestly tastes just like a green tea to me – I’d not have identified it as a pu’erh if it hadn’t been presented to me as such (and if it wasn’t a tuo cha). It’s smooth for the most part, although there’s the tiniest bite of astringency right at the end of the sip. There’s also a slightly “dusty” flavour, and a touch of lingering dryness. I can’t say that I either love it or hate it – it’s just an in-between kind of tea to me. I’m probably going to resteep once or twice, and then call it a day.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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I’ve tried this one before, but I loved it so much I made sure to pick up another bag before Butiki closed. I’ve been hoarding it a little, but I finally pulled it out today. I wouldn’t want it to lose its flavour, after all! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. I’m amazed all over again at how pretty (and green!) the leaf is, at the size of the buds and their wonderful white downiness. It’s a quality white tea, for sure.

The liquor on this one is so pale, it’s hard to believe it’s tea at all. There’s a very faint yellow-ish tinge, but that’s it. The scent is pure watermelon juice, though, and so is the flavour. It’s pretty sweet, but with the slight “bite” watermelon can have and the perfect sense of wateriness. It’s just spot-on watermelon, really. None of your candy-like, haribo sweet-recalling watermelon flavour here – just natural, fresh tasting, true-to-life watermelon juice. If I didn’t know it was tea, I probably wouldn’t be able to guess.

Every time I drink a Butiki tea, it’s like saying a small goodbye. It’s sad to know I’ll never be able to get this one again once my bag is gone – all the more reason to treasure what’s left.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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drank SBT: Maple Bacon by 52teas
1694 tasting notes

I’ve been avoiding this one for ages, because frankly I’m scared of it. I mean, bacon. In tea. I must have been feeling pretty brave yesterday evening, though, because I bit the bullet and made this one up for work today. It got the usual SBT treatment – 3 minutes in ¼ litre of boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water, and then into the fridge overnight. I’m back to being scared this morning.

I took my first sip very tentatively, and was surprised to find that I’m actually okay with this one. It’s mostly maple – and the maple is so strong it’s almost like drinking maple syrup. I love maple syrup, so that’s more than fine with me. There is a tiny hint of smokiness and something a little like those bacon salad crispies, or just bacon-flavour crisps, right in the mid-sip, but it’s fleeting and really just barely there. I’m a little relieved about this, but actually it works rather well with the maple and as I drank more I found myself thinking that I could take it a little stronger. A surprise if ever there was one! On the whole, I’m pleased this is mostly maple. Maple tea I can understand! I had to try this one just for the novelty value, but I’m happy that I ended up enjoying it as well. Wonders never cease.

Iced 8 min or more

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A sample from Roswell Strange. Apparently I’ve tried this one once before, but I only have the vaguest of recollections so it’s nice to have an opportunity to refresh my memory. I gave this one 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a decent splash of milk. I do love a decent latte-style chai!

To taste, this one’s so creamy it’s almost unreal. I’m sure the milk has helped, but it’s also the vanilla, which is by far the strongest flavour. It’s rich, sweet, and smooth with that characteristic vanilla bean stickiness. The spices emerge mostly in the mid-sip, and stop the sweetness from becoming cloying. It’s a nice balance between the initial hit of vanilla and the warming cinnamon, ginger and clove. The black tea base is pretty perfect – unobtrusive, with no astringency, but with enough body to support some milk, and to avoid tasting thin. Beautiful! This one would make a great cup on a snowy day – I might have to try and source some of this for just such occasions! Yum!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve not tried many fig teas before, largely because they seem to be a relative rarity in the UK. I think I’ve maybe come across one or two before, but certainly no more than that. I like figs, though, so I’m always glad to have the chance to translate that into tea form! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it three minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-red-brown; the scent sweet with notes of dried fruit.

To taste (and as I’d hoped) the fig is the real star! It’s so true-to-life, and very fresh tasting to the point of juiciness. It’s hard to describe fig as anything other than “fig”, but I suppose raisin or fresh date come into it a little, although milder and sweeter. It makes for a great mid-morning cup! The black base is very smooth, with absolutely no astringency. It’s a tiny bit malty (although not overpoweringly so), and really just lets the fig flavour shine. This one’s a real winner with me.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, 28, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.


Norfolk, UK

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